Eucalyptus and cloud news roundup June 23, 2014

By Tim Zeller | June 23, 2014

As June comes to a close, let's round up some of the past week's top Eucalyptus and cloud news. There has been recent, widespread debate about the direction of open source cloud solutions, around whether they are now viable alternatives to proprietary software and if they are moving toward market consolidation and domination by a handful of vendors.

Many organizations are seeking to shift away from the cost and potential lock-in of VMware, but is open source there to pick up the slack? OpenStack remains a loose collection of APIs and tools, although Red Hat may be gradually assuming more control of the project. There's clear demand for usable, extensible software that enables private and hybrid cloud architectures, even as OpenStack has struggled to mature into turnkey, enterprise-grade products.

At the same time, open source need not displace proprietary software entirely. Aside from VMware, commercial platforms such as Amazon Web Services are central to IT, with dev/test teams relying on on-demand resources, elasticity and self-service to build scalable and high-performing applications. Striking a balance between public and private cloud environments via open source will be increasingly important as organizations seek to reach users while keeping costs and infrastructure management under control.

Open source community debates the future of software at Gigaom Structure conference

Some of the leading names in the open source community recently gathered in San Francisco to hash out which cloud solution, if any, would win the day by rivaling platforms such as AWS for flexibility and usability. Participants included Eucalyptus CEO Marten Mickos, Sameer Dholakia from Citrix and Nebula co‚Äč-founder Chris Kemp.

The group focused on the usability challenges facing open source ecosystems such as OpenStack and CloudStack, some of which have so far failed to differentiate themselves from proprietary solutions.

"If you have too much money, you buy VMware. If you have too much time, you buy OpenStack," joked Mickos.

Mickos also noted that while Eucalyptus is open to potentially supporting other platforms down the road, for now it integrates tightly with AWS due to Amazon's large market share and clear leadership in the IaaS space.

The entire community benefits from competition between OpenStack and Eucalyptus

Forbes contributor Ben Kepes has a good summary up of Mickos' recently Q&A hosted by Yabbly. During that session, Mickos answered the question of who will win between OpenStack and Eucalyptus by arguing that open source as a whole wins from tight competition between vendors and their offerings.

Parts of OpenStack may evolve and be integrated into more commercial solutions. Still, since OpenStack does little to address the vast AWS user base, there's an enormous opportunity for companies that can bridge the gap between AWS and open source private cloud.

"There is a massive business opportunity outside the area where OpenStack is aiming," Mickos stated during the Q&A. "AWS has a market share over 80 percent and only Eucalyptus can build meaningful hybrid clouds with AWS. Thanks to its tight packaging and ease of operation, Eucalyptus is also the ideal cloud for agile and distributed environments where the customer does NOT have a giant IT team."

Proprietary and open source cloud software: Not an either/or scenario

Also writing for Forbes, contributor Kurt Marko takes a broader look at open source's entry into the enterprise, making the case that entirely open source clouds are unlikely to displace entrenched IT infrastructure over night. Even technologies such as Hyper-V are relatively new, and given the slow pace at which most enterprises move, open source vendors may need to focus on supplementing what's already in place rather than trying to replace it wholesale.

Marko covers a lot of ground, from Red Hat's role as chief steward of OpenStack to the use of open source technology by Amazon and Facebook. He also touches upon the impact of containerization solutions such as Docker, which recently gained support from Google. Whereas virtual machines, under virtualization, have traditionally supported one application each, containerization allows for multiple ones to share a single operating system instance.

Docker in depth: What's its impact on the cloud and VMware?

Speaking of Docker, InformationWeek's Charles Babcock provided a detailed, technical explanation of how it works. He also delves into Docker's role in enabling DevOps, because developers can craft code without fixating on how to maintain it or where it is going to run. Since Docker makes it easy to ensure that code is isolated and acceptably formatted, operations teams also have a more straightforward task.

"With Docker, developers and operations, two groups that have perennially been at war, can sit down at a table where a truce could break out and make it easier way for both sides to get their jobs done," argued Babcock.

Hybrid cloud may become the dominant cloud computing deployment model

It isn't hard to see why organizations gravitate toward hybrid cloud. It provides the best of both worlds by allowing workloads to run securely in a data center until a spike in demand necessitates additional resources from a public cloud such as AWS.

A study from TechNavio estimated that the global hybrid cloud market was worth more than $21 billion in 2013. Banks, government agencies, retailers and healthcare providers are leading the charge, and most of the uptake is currently in North America.

"Enterprises are increasingly using hybrid cloud because they may host critical applications on private clouds and applications with relatively less security concerns on the public cloud," stated the report abstract. "The hybrid cloud computing help enterprises to achieve maximum usability while minimizing the degree of faults and without the need for constant Internet connectivity."

When will enterprise developers go all-in on open source?

Open source platforms such as GitHub have facilitated the rapid growth of platforms such as Node.js. Writing for InfoWorld, Eric Knorr wondered if the collaborative methodologies of GitHub et al could ever remake enterprise software development culture. Organizations may move toward such approaches in order to quickly innovate with input from a large community, although they will likely be mindful of the potential pitfalls in such a process, demonstrated most emphatically in the recently discovered OpenSSL flaws.

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